Article written

  • on 27.05.2011
  • at 02:17 PM
  • by Jessy Troy

Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune

May27

Did you know one of the best ways to save money throughout your life is to eat well? Health care spending for obese adults is about 50% higher than for adults at a normal or slightly heavier than normal weight!

Unfortunately, when you head to the grocery store, it can seem like you can’t afford to eat healthy in order to maintain a healthy, cost-efficient weight.

It’s true that processed foods that lack nutrition are often a lot cheaper than unprocessed foods. However, anyone can eat well on a budget with the right outlook and techniques. Here are some ways you can eat healthy foods without spending a fortune on groceries:

1. Cook at home from scratch. Processed foods are cheap because they’re full of cheap, non-nutritional fillers and are made in a factory. Foods that aren’t full of those fillers – think healthy frozen meals, canned soups without the added sodium, etc. – can be good for you, but they’re some of the most expensive out there. Instead of resorting to healthy frozen meals because you feel you don’t have time to cook, start making cooking at home from scratch a bigger priority in your life.

One way to make this easier is to fix healthy meals ahead of time and freeze them. Things like turkey loaf (as opposed to regular meatloaf), shredded chicken, casseroles, and soups can be put into individual or family-sized containers and saved for later. Also, try out quick, healthy recipes like spaghetti with homemade sauce and chicken noodle soup. Once you’ve made them a few times, they’ll be super easy to throw together on a busy weeknight.

2. Steer clear of specialty health foods, unless you have a reason for eating them. If you’re really on a budget, you probably don’t want to shop at Whole Foods Market or try the latest health innovations. Even foods like soy milks and almond milk as opposed to regular skim milk can add to your grocery bill.

Unless you have a reason to eat specialty health foods, just be reasonable in your grocery shopping. Chances are likely that your grandparents lived healthy, full lives without the help of special foods. You can, too!

3. Load up on whole grains. Grains like brown rice and whole-wheat pasta are super cheap, especially if you can find them at a discount grocery store or buy them in bulk. They keep practically forever, and they make a versatile base for all sorts of meals. Learn to use different recipes that can be served over rice and pasta, and experiment with other types of grains, such as quinoa and oats.

While your entire diet shouldn’t be based on grains, it’s a good idea to include them with every meal. They’re filling, low in fat, and deliciously affordable!

4. Buy meat when it’s on sale. One of the best ways to save on your entire healthy grocery bill is to save on the meat. This is what makes up the bulk of the cost of most meals, after all. Meat is very resource-intensive, so it’s no surprise that it costs so much more than other types of food!

Cutting back on meat is a good idea for many people health-wise, but it can also be a good way to save. If you’re already comfortable with your level of meat consumption, then you can save by buying it in bulk when it’s on sale. The goal here is to try to buy meat for under $2 a pound. How possible this is will depend largely on where you’re from and where you’re shopping!

If you do find a great deal on meat, though, you can pick up enough for a few meals. Freeze it either unprepared or prepared in a basic way. For instance, you can boil and shred chicken before freezing it, and it’ll be versatile enough for tons of recipes. Another option is to brown beef with onions and garlic and freeze it. You can use it in all sorts of quick recipes.

The great part about preparing beef this way, too, is that you can get the cheaper, higher-fat ground beef. Just drain it really well after you cook it, and you’ll get rid of most of the excess fat!

5. Buy fruits and vegetables in season, and be choosy about your organics. This is really two tips rolled into one!

Buying your produce in season is cheaper and healthier. More and more studies are showing that the nutrients in fresh foods break down so quickly that the closer you are to the produce’s source, the more nutritious your food will be. Plus, when you’re buying seasonal, local produce, you aren’t paying extra for shipping costs, so you get healthier food on the cheap.

While many diet books recommend you only ever eat organics, this just isn’t possible for some people. Do some research to see which non-organic produce absorbs the most pesticides, and try to buy those things in organic. Don’t go overboard, though. Produce like oranges and bananas, for instance, don’t take in lots of pesticides because of their thick skins that we peel of before we eat them!

Abigail Hall blogs for the family credit card comparison website, www.creditdonkey.com.  Visit CreditDonkey to compare grocery credit cards to save money while eating healthy.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by HoskingIndustries

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